May 27, 2020

Trigeminal neuralgia

The Bangor Daily News’ front page on Dec. 26 featured a good article by Lauren Neergaard of The Associated Press about the strategy for pain being updated. I have read a lot in recent years by doctors, nurses and clinicians about pain and the management thereof. May I now speak as a layman and one who is afflicted by this excruciating pain.

Eight years ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 67. Several years later came my first experience with trigeminal neuralgia.

First, let me say that the trigeminal nerve comes out of the brain stem, then separates into three nerves (hencethe tri). The neuralgia may effect any one of the three nerve branches. Mine is in the lower right jaw, and perhaps the most difficult to treat. I have tried many prescription drugs. All to no avail. The pain persists. I am currently on Percocet and non-prescription Anbesol and Hurricane spray. These work only slightly.

Some say I have a very high pain threshold. If that means I can tolerate more pain than some people, well, maybe. The attacks of pain come every eight or nine minutes, and feel like violent bolts of lightning without the light. Local applications of Anbesol and Hurricane spray relieve the pain briefly. At this rate, I may sleep five or six minutes between the blasts of pain at night. The attacks seem slightly reduced during the day.

If hospitals are to increase their attention and treatment of pain, may they please be somewhat directed to trigeminal neuralgia.

Ray E. Hanscom


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